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'We understand how big these games are': Slipper, Wallabies ready for All Blacks occasion

Wed, 14/09/2022, 5:34 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallabies and South Africa made history as the first International event at Allianz Stadium

Wallabies captain James Slipper is embracing their chance at history, knowing how big ending a two-decade-long Bledisloe drought will be.

Slipper and the Wallabies will open the series against the All Blacks on September 15 at Marvel Stadium, needing to win to keep the series alive in Auckland.

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The skipper was just 13 when Australia last retained the Bledisloe in 2002, hopeful the youthful group were void of the past pain of defeats.

“We’ve got a couple boys born the last we won so it’s been a long time,” Slipper told reporters.

“I think it works in our favour because these young guys coming in, haven’t gone through the last 15-20 years of playing the All Blacks. They’ve had some great teams over the past years and this one is as strong.

“Our players are just excited to get out there, they haven’t played the All Blacks consistently so it sets up a really good match tomorrow because we’re coming here to perform and I’m sure the All Blacks are too.

“(2002 Bledisloe) are probably some of my fondest memories and a main reason why I wanted to be a Wallaby because I grew up watching the likes of the late 90’s-early 2000s being a really successful period for us as a country.”

With this in mind, Slipper recognises and understands what putting two straight wins together, something they are yet to do in 2022, will mean to not only the squad but the wider Rugby community.

“At the end of the day, we want to inspire players around the country and we’ve got a job to do and we know that," he explained.

“We understand how big these games are for the Rugby community. It’s been 20 years, I’ve never won it and it’s one thing talking about winning it but it’s another thing doing it.

“I’m not interested in going down the path of ‘we’re going out there to win’, we’ve got to make sure to do it on the field instead of in front of the media.”

Thursday's Test takes extra significance for the 34-year-old, set to lead his captain for the first time in a Bledisloe.

“It hit home. It’s always a big game when you play the All Blacks but leading the boys out is a proud moment,” Slipper added.

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